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Let me get this straight. If a child is not reasonable, I'll smack them hoping that they will reason, I don't like pain therefore I wont do that again. Nonsensical

You're thinking about this from the objective that reason is the goal. If you're dealing with a child who is unable or unwilling (at least at present) to reason then an immediate understanding/acceptance/ability of reason cannot be achieved, and thus is not a valid goal. In the LONG term, keeping the child *alive* long enough to reach the capacity of reason may necessitate the acceptance that short term, one cannot force reason on a mind not ready or willing.

Pain avoidance is thus NOT about long term rational behavior (reason), but short term pain avoidance.

A child may be unable (or unwilling) to conceptualize the long term consequences of dangerous behavior (if I sneak out of the house and play in traffic I won't get to spend time with mommy cause they'll put me in a home), but very able to conceptualize more short term consequences (if I don't do what I'm told I get spanked and that hurts!).

Ideal?

No.

Remember, I'm citing a real example here. Maybe you think repeated attempts to reason with a child like Jackie will succeed - but I've been next door to this girl since she was pre-toddler. If only attempts at reasoning were tried, well - you'ld be preaching ideals to a child's coffin. Damn near had one as it was.

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Our neighbor has a child (3) who has emotional development issues. The mother can reason, plead, beg, cajole, etc. with the child, but the child will still insist on doing it her way. This ultimately led to the child sneaking out of the house with the 2 year old, both naked, running up to a very busy street - twice. Child *showed* police how she got out of the house - mom was not slacking off - child is deliberate.

Sounds like the mother was slacking off. Sounds like there was no punishment *whatsoever*, meaning your anecdote suggests nothing about corporal punishment in particular. Your anecdote is actually an awful lot like the type of parent mentioned in the second paragraph of bluecherry's previous post. Might the mother be afraid of even being mean to her child with emotional development problems?

Addressing you second post, it is reasonable and necessary sometimes to force a kid to act a certain way like forcefully putting on a seatbelt, but that doesn't imply physical punishment needs to go along with it.

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Sounds like the mother was slacking off. Sounds like there was no punishment *whatsoever*, meaning your anecdote suggests nothing about corporal punishment in particular. Your anecdote is actually an awful lot like the type of parent mentioned in the second paragraph of bluecherry's previous post. Might the mother be afraid of even being mean to her child with emotional development problems?

Yah, sounds like you are making a lot of assumptions. Maybe I didn't make it clear - the kids *have been taken* - and the social workers and foster homes are reporting that *this child is not normal*. The "mom was not slacking off" comment wasn't based on assumption - it's based on observations of experts far more qualified than ourselves to judge. The CPS people are trying to help get most of the kids home - and the Mom and Dad are now actively considering whether the 3 yr old needs to be institutionalized for the sake of the rest of the kids.

Addressing you second post, it is reasonable and necessary sometimes to force a kid to act a certain way like forcefully putting on a seatbelt, but that doesn't imply physical punishment needs to go along with it.

Ok - lets walk it through.

You put a seatbelt on a kid who doesn't want it on. The kid figures out how to get out of it.

Now what?

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Ok - lets walk it through.

You put a seatbelt on a kid who doesn't want it on. The kid figures out how to get out of it.

Now what?

About the kid you mentioned, I still don't think it really has any significance anyway, unless you knew well how the parents dealt with the kid in regards to discipline.

Before I write anything else, I should mention what I'm discussing is just more short-term events where time is very limited. Actions of long-term consequences, like lying, I think have been sufficiently discussed to show that physical punishment is at best a waste of time.

Presumably, your answer after that point would be "well, I suppose the only option left is to hit the kid," and hitting would be appropriate because there's an obvious consequence for slipping out of a seatbelt. There is the short-term pain avoidance (fear, essentially). I'd still wonder, what would you do if the kid broke out of the seatbelt again anyway? Hit harder? Hit again? Rinse and repeat till the kid listens? In addition, if the kid slips out, the seatbelt probably does a terrible job anyway. I digress. Really though, the point is that there are better options than harnessing fear even in the short-term. Use a baby seat if the kid slips out, those are certainly more secure. In a way, a regular seat belt is a privilege with more freedom of movement. If we're talking about a 7 year old, there's probably a whole lot more to discuss about behavior if you can't at least verbalize in order to convince a kid to behave ("if you wear your seatbelt, you can have some ice cream on the way home"). Whatever the age, there are probably things a parent can do to make sure their child behaves before the possibility of misbehavior. Older kids you can talk to beforehand, toddlers you can plan for inevitable crying and spontaneous acting.

Of course, that still doesn't quite answer "why not still use hitting as a last resort discipline toolbox." I think that would only apply in literal life and death scenarios. With seatbelts or crossing the street, there is sufficient time to deal with misbehavior with simple force, i.e. grabbing. In addition, the kid may still desire to misbehave, but they'd at least be enticed to think about the action, even if not entirely rational just yet, though that still leaves opportunity a few days later to discuss the matter even in a few sentences. If a seatbelt incident happens again, repeat the process. Annoying? Certainly, such is the nature of parenting (and partly why I'd never want a kid of my own). Use of pain-inducing force is harnessing fear as I said before, which I think would more likely get the kid to not even wanting to think about the issue beyond the immediate short-term. Maybe even to an extent preventing long-term thinking. At times, you may truly be out of options due to having failed to make a consideration yourself, so hitting is the only thing that can be done. But that would indicate the parent did make an error somewhere along the line to even reach that point.

tl;dr answer: I'd go get a baby seat and use that instead.

Edited by Eiuol
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If the child takes off his seat belt, stop the vehicle and don't drive it again until everyone is safely buckled and the situation is satisfactory to the driver. The same goes for screaming, throwing objects, kicking the driver's seat and spitting. It isn't very complicated.

Would you drive with an unbuckled adult in your vehicle? What if he was screaming at you? What if in the car ahead, you saw an unbuckled adult screaming at the driver, or the driver turned toward the back, screaming at the passengers? Would you continue to drive at such close proximity?

When I'm in a vehicle, I expect everyone to be buckled and not screaming. If I'm driving, I stop whenever something or someone causes my situation to be unsafe. I have stopped for each of my children a few times, once for each sort of infraction they chose (because yes, mummie stops for screaming and kicking the back of her seat). I have stopped more than once for my partner when he wasn't buckled: his body flying around in the van would likely kill any one of the rest of us in a collision. We have stopped the vehicle several times for each child at around the 18 month and 2 1/2 yr stages. Then, we don't need to do so anymore. In my experience, a five, six, or seven year old who causes unsafe conditions in a moving vehicle has either not been adequately instructed or has issues beyond the scope of healthy impulse management. I have had no issues at all with my children beyond that 2 1/2 yr mark, in the vehicle.

I stop for crying babies, too, because I am emotionally distraught by their continued crying. I meet their needs, and we move on.

Of course this happens within the context of a family in which each individual truly values his time for the sake of productivity, and even our two yr old has chastised a sibling for taking his time from him through misbehaviour in the vehicle. My children have a healthy appreciation for the reality that time wasted is not regained, that time spent waiting for unsafe behaviour is time they cannot spend drawing dragons and building cities with blocks, or practicing sword-fighting.

If children do not value their time, then it stands to reason that they will not care that they are wasting it.

My solution to all of the problems in this thread is to deliberately lay a foundation of reasoned values and then live accordingly, virtuously. Children are eager to learn. Hitting them or taking away so-called privileges only regresses the issue, and shows up the holes in one's parenting (barring very unusual circumstances and of course accounting for genuinely new circumstances to the child).

Parenting is enormously inefficient and inconvenient. The best-case-scenario is usually to take the time necessary to provide foundational information and conclusions for children to use in their own re-invention of the wheel. If you don't have the time or inclination to do this, you will find yourself having to teach lessons that could have been more easily learned and internalised when they first emerged as issues, rather then later on when an uneducated child can do more damage to himself and/or others.

It is also imperative that a parent's expectations accord with the abilities of the child. Discipline is about guidance, not punishment. A child who does not have the ability to take responsibility for his own actions fully, should not be punished, even when behaving in a way that draws attention to his inability to take full responsibility (like pulling off a seatbelt), but the parent who neglected to guide the child in the first place- foundationally- should be (or better yet: take the cue!).

Parenting should be proactive, not reactive. Some people object to the obvious intensity of engagement that this would require. Well, this is why most people shouldn't have children until or unless this undertaking is within their scope of abilities. Parenting isn't automatic.

I filled in at a daycare once, for a friend, and was completely shocked at how unengaged the children were. I spent the day with ten children from 18 months to 5 yrs old in my charge and it was like a vacation. At the time, I had four children, and it would have taken two weeks for that group of ten children to receive what my four do in a day, at the rate of the program and the rate of inquiry of those cow-eyed children. Imagine my stunned silence when the other workers (who between the three of them, handled only five children)commented at how talkative and curious the children were with me. Then they asked how much harder it was for me to care for so many kids. I couldn't help but blurt out that it was like a vacation for me. Then my friend asked if I would stay on, and bring my children, too. I think I lost my usual composure and exclaimed with a bit too much emphasis, "No, thanks."

If you send your child to daycare or school, trying to do this will be a bit like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up a hill. Schooling enforces enormous wasting of one's time and lack of productivity, so trying to explain that doing the wrong/inappropriate thing uses up time that a child could be spending doing something enjoyable and productive, is likely to fall on deaf, or anti-productivity-conditioned ears. In this case, the child is likely to think, "But who cares? I'll just do it tomorrow." This is how school works: the continuous rolling over into tomorrow what could/should/would have been accomplished today, followed by repetition to bring back to mind what was forgotten because it was neglected in the first place.

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My apologies on the gender-confusion.

I think that I'm not explaining something that is very obvious, but am having difficulty with the wording.

Some of you seem to think, or at least a very express, that this is a violence-ridden home. It is not. I don't necessarily agree with some of the methods that many of you have talked about. I don't damn them by any means. I certainly don't speak to you folks in the manner that you speak to me, though many of you exalt liberal methods that produce questionable results.

Yes, I've spanked my son twice in his life. There are two (2) offenses with get a belt. No confusion, no question. If you think that's wrong, I'm ok with that.

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If you have not done so yet, please read my post in particular and then address it. Maybe you have read it already, but your response now gives me the impression you have not because it does not address things I already said, including that this is not about thinking you beat your kids within an inch of their life or anything like that, that we realize you have only rarely and fairly lightly used such physical pain punishments, and what I said about your concern of not using such types of punishments producing bad results, and that I then asked you a specific question to answer within the context of the rest of what I already had said.

Edited by bluecherry
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Lakeside, I was also looking forward to your reply to Bluecherry's post. I think it was well reasoned with lots of room for discussion. I wanted to write to your latest post, "but what about..." but Bluecherry covered all of the questions I had, so there is no point in reiterating what has already very competently been expressed.

Please do reply. If you find it worthwhile to post about your child-rearing methods, surely you would find it worthwhile to make rational sense of them in discussion. Otherwise, you have done what you've accused us of, namely that you have "exalted [...] methods that produce questionable results," rendering your participation in this otherwise rational discussion about child-rearing little more effective than you tossing a beer bottle into a crowd.

Edited by Imogen
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I'm 26 and do not have children of my own yet. Having said that, my parents never physically punished me. I feel tremendous respect towards them, and I honestly feel safe in saying I don't believe I would feel the same respect had they beat me when I was a child. In fact, I'm fairly sure I would resent it greatly. Perhaps I would have been able to overcome it, but I would most certainly feel that it were wrong of them to use physical punishments.

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  • 3 months later...

Eiuol - Why object to physical punishment? What evidence do you have to support that doctrine?

The effects of positive punishment are well understood in behavioral psychology. They create the illusion of effectiveness for the parent(punisher) because the child develops a fear response that is directly associated with the punisher so that they avoid the act only or especially when the punisher is present. For this reason, the punishment acts as a positive reinforcer for the parent because from their perspective, by all appearances it works extremely well. Fear is powerful, but unfortunately is usually accompanied by anger, guilt, and shame which are internalized to different degrees by the child and almost universally results in a lack of trust and a poorer relationship with the parent.

An exception to this is children prior to the age of 3(preconscious) who seem to do better when swatted than their peers. Ostensibly because the pain is directly associated as being a result of their own actions since they have not, by that age, developed the capacity for the necessary differentiation. In other words, they don't understand enough to blame the parent for the act so they just avoid the behavior in the same way that they would a hot stove they had touched. For older children this is not the case.

As bluecherry suggested above, causation is difficult to break apart in human psychology, but as a general rule, children learn how to behave primarily by understanding and seeing what they should do rather than by using a checklist to avoid all of the things they ought not do. That's why focusing on negative behavior tends to reinforce it. It puts it in the forefront of their minds in the same way that telling someone to "NOT think about a rock" immediately conjures up the thought of a rock. A parent paying little attention to bad behavior while showing immense interest(not praise) in good behavior tends to shape the child slowly but surely in a somewhat gentler way, which gets the desired behavior without squashing their delicate little souls.

The important question to ask is whether the goal of parenting is to produce a person who does what is expected of him ought of emotional need or fear of others or whether the goal ought to be the creation of an independent spirit, learning to make choices with reason as their primary guide.

In short, natural consequences teach the child about the world and causation in it, while the consequences you impose teach the child about how you feel about him, and not necessarily in an accurate way.

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The effects of positive punishment are well understood in behavioral psychology. They create the illusion of effectiveness for the parent(punisher) because the child develops a fear response that is directly associated with the punisher so that they avoid the act only or especially when the punisher is present. For this reason, the punishment acts as a positive reinforcer for the parent because from their perspective, by all appearances it works extremely well. Fear is powerful, but unfortunately is usually accompanied by anger, guilt, and shame which are internalized to different degrees by the child and almost universally results in a lack of trust and a poorer relationship with the parent.

Have you seen any of the videos by Stefan Molyneux. He's been talking a lot lately about non-violent parenting while raising his own child. I like his idea of making force such a foreign notion to a child, that when they encounter it later in life, they are emotionally repulsed by it. Contrast that with statist countries where kids are so heavily indoctrinated that collectivism has become ingrained in the language.

Or search for "parenting" here: http://www.youtube.com/user/stefbot#g/search

Edited by brian0918
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In short, natural consequences teach the child about the world and causation in it, while the consequences you impose teach the child about how you feel about him, and not necessarily in an accurate way.
Great post aEqualsA.

Usually, when people raise this issue, they're thinking of some form of "spanking" as the alternative to "natural consequences". So, I'd like to add that there are non-physical punishments that are "non-natural" as well, and these too should be avoided. For instance, visualize a parent who uses lies, faking and emotional trickery to get a child to do what he or she wants. This is not punishment, but once again it is the wrong type of motivation. Indeed, a little spanking can seem almost clean compared to the worst cases of emotional blackmail.

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What if the natural consequence is potentially life threatenig to the child and there is urgency in teaching this lesson?

(ie "Don't race your bike down the drive way darting across the street" is being ignored.)

I'm not suggesting beating, but ignoring the action and praising other positive actions will not suffice here.

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Great post aEqualsA.

Usually, when people raise this issue, they're thinking of some form of "spanking" as the alternative to "natural consequences". So, I'd like to add that there are non-physical punishments that are "non-natural" as well, and these too should be avoided. For instance, visualize a parent who uses lies, faking and emotional trickery to get a child to do what he or she wants. This is not punishment, but once again it is the wrong type of motivation. Indeed, a little spanking can seem almost clean compared to the worst cases of emotional blackmail.

Thanks, and yes. I would go further and avoid as much as possible most punishments. Time out for example creates a similar emotional effect on the child as more corporal punishment. The understanding is the same, "If you do something to displease me I will be angry with you and use force to make you unhappy."

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What if the natural consequence is potentially life threatenig to the child and there is urgency in teaching this lesson?

(ie "Don't race your bike down the drive way darting across the street" is being ignored.)

I'm not suggesting beating, but ignoring the action and praising other positive actions will not suffice here.

I didn't mean to imply that a child ought to be allowed to experience serious pain or trauma as a learning experience. In the moment, restraining the child or carrying him away from the situation is fine. Especially if complimented by explanations once the immediate danger has passed.

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Thanks, and yes. I would go further and avoid as much as possible most punishments. Time out for example creates a similar emotional effect on the child as more corporal punishment. The understanding is the same, "If you do something to displease me I will be angry with you and use force to make you unhappy."
Also, the idea of using the "natural motivation" (i.e. the actual value or dis-value) resulting from the action is true not just of punishment, but also of reward. Offering a child money to ace a test is an external inducement that is unrelated to the value that is derived from the actual study.

Of course, there are times when external rewards and punishments can be used, but the overall policy ought to be to avoid them if possible.

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What if the natural consequence is potentially life threatenig to the child and there is urgency in teaching this lesson?

(ie "Don't race your bike down the drive way darting across the street" is being ignored.)

I'm not suggesting beating, but ignoring the action and praising other positive actions will not suffice here.

This is one of those times when a parent must look deeply at the efficacy of his/her communication skills, because if your child doesn't trust your judgment, and also hasn't enough life experience to make his own good judgment, you have failed. Shriek, wave your arms, chase him as far as you can, then go inside to obtain bandaging material, and grab your phone on your way back outside. Learn the lesson.

Stop lying to your kids about your continuously unproven skills as a medium. Don't tell them they'll get hurt when it's not absolutely true. Don't promise them injuries they don't get doing things that aren't actually dangerous. Let them use their bodies the way they want to from infancy (using good judgment and lots of care of course), and they'll know their actual limitations. Then they won't dart into traffic on their bikes at break-neck speed. They would have learned the precursory lessons long before they could ride a bike, if you had not hindered their progress with hysterical precautionaries until that point.

Discipline is all about communicating reality. Otherwise, it's creating an illusion that a child will fight against because the evidence of reality is continuously available to inquiring minds; children are nothing if not that. They will discover that you have not been honest with them, but have been infesting them with your own irrational fears, presented as facts.

If that child doesn't die from darting across the street, and you have told him a million times that he will, who is the one grasping reality? Parenting from fear is a lose-lose situation. Be honest. Even with children. ESPECIALLY with children.

Edited by Imogen
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Also, the idea of using the "natural motivation" (i.e. the actual value or dis-value) resulting from the action is true not just of punishment, but also of reward. Offering a child money to ace a test is an external inducement that is unrelated to the value that is derived from the actual study.

Of course, there are times when external rewards and punishments can be used, but the overall policy ought to be to avoid them if possible.

I absolutely agree again. Token economies, such as those they often set up in psych wards and prisons are amazingly effective, while inside them. As soon as they leave the token economy almost no long term changes are made. The problem with the approach is so obvious that it's funny. As all good objectivists ought to know, people are different from dogs in that we possess significant reasoning capacity, so when they leave the token economies, they immediately realize that there are no more Scooby Snacks and they stop maintaining the desired behavior.

Children lack a lot of reasoning skills and the ability to hold broader concepts. Helping them understand causation, what the effects, short and long term, their actions will have, is far more beneficial. Especially in the context of understanding those things which they have experienced first hand.

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  • 5 years later...
Quote

 

It's been 5 years since this thread was last active (that by itself i find very strange indeed). I'm curious if there are any new books for kids/teens based on Objectivist Ideals? Strange that nobody (to my knowledge) has yet written a teen/children's book on Objectivism. 

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14 hours ago, Tom Hess said:

It's been 5 years since this thread was last active (that by itself i find very strange indeed). I'm curious if there are any new books for kids/teens based on Objectivist Ideals? Strange that nobody (to my knowledge) has yet written a teen/children's book on Objectivism. 

Objectivist Richard Gleaves writes fiction for a younger reader. Review excerpt from one of his books:

Quote

Though many of the characters are teenagers, making this story accessible to the YA fiction readers, it also tackles important themes of individuality, rationality and learning to trust one's best judgement even in the face of horrors and self doubt.

Edited by JASKN
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21 hours ago, Tom Hess said:

I'm curious if there are any new books for kids/teens based on Objectivist Ideals? Strange that nobody (to my knowledge) has yet written a teen/children's book on Objectivism. 

Do you mean fiction for kids/teens? Not quite the response you were looking for, but there've been a couple of earlier thread asking for book recommendations for kids. Here's one (and it links to the other).

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A casual look through the current and related threads raises the question: do the books we read, or that people read to us, when we're children have any effect on our character, beliefs or behavior later on? Has anybody, Objectivist or not, tested such claims empirically? A good test would, among its other accomplishments, give us a way to distinguish between the book had this effect on children and children of a certain character were drawn to this book,iked it as children land remember it as adults.

Anecdotes are better than no evidence at all, but not entirely convincing.

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2 hours ago, Reidy said:

... Has anybody, Objectivist or not, tested such claims empirically?...

Anecdotes are better than no evidence at all, but not entirely convincing.

I've often wondered if there's good research about a whole lot of child-rearing advice. Usually people will offer anecdotal evidence for something. I do so too, based on the experience of rearing one kid (not exactly a large sample size). 

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